Turning up the turndown service

I was recently reminded of turndown services whilst staying at a South Australian hotel. Having not requested a turndown service in some time, I arranged the service for one evening – and to my surprise, the service included everything but the ‘turning down’ of the bed.

Turndown services are a strange concept to many guests. The idea of having someone come into the room during the early hours of the evening to pull the linen back and fluff the pillows is surprisingly offensive to many. A simple search on hotel discussion forums reveals that guests find the service anything from ‘creepy’ to luxurious, with many feeling that the practice is outdated and some completely unaware of what the service entails.

A TripAdvisor user recently posted: “My hotel says they offer a daily turn down service… Is this a fancy way of saying your room will be cleaned or what?”

Another posted: “I don’t understand, I’m perfectly capable of pulling the sheets back?”

Housekeeping staff providing a turndown service
AdobeStock by New Africa

Like many guests, my general assumption of a turndown service was that I would return to a room that was generally tidy, with closed curtains and nicely folded back bed linen. When I returned to my hotel after requesting the service, I was surprised to find that the bed was straightened (but not turned down) and the curtains were still open. While this was confusing, I was not disappointed.

Instead, I returned to a room that was cosy and had a welcoming atmosphere with sweet personal touches. There certainly wasn’t anything ‘creepy’ or unnecessary about it.

The first thing I noticed as I walked in was quiet jazz music. The TV was preloaded with a selection of calming music and had been left on a low volume. The lights were warm and dim, and there were several chocolates left in a small dish by the bed. A small bag had been left for any laundry needs I might have and the towels in the bathroom had all been replaced. A fresh toiletry kit was by the sink with a handwritten note that read, “thank you and goodnight – Risda.”

When I went to bed I noticed that my pillow smelt subtly of lavender pillow spray, and the air conditioning had been altered to account for the particularly warm evening weather.

The result

This experience truly was a luxury. I can turn down a bed and fluff pillows myself, and I would have done it regardless. However, it would never have occurred to me to dim the lights, play calming music or spray my pillow with a relaxing scent before I went to bed. Hotels should offer guests experiences and turndown services which they would not have otherwise enjoyed, and this is exactly what I experienced.


Having sought out guest feedback from several OTA sites and forums, it’s clear I’m not the only guest who appreciates the thoughtful details. Many guests raved of the romantic touches they returned to on a honeymoon stay, such as flower scattered beds or baths, or even a complimentary sample bottle of wine. Others were pleased to find complimentary sweets and snacks, or premium teas and warm kettles. Many mentioned the warm atmosphere they returned to, and the overwhelming response was that being treated for a change never goes astray.

What can you add to your turndown service that will have your guests turning up time and time again?

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Andrew North
Andrew North
6 years ago

If ever anyone needed a definition of a “1st world problem” this has got to be it.

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